Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Double coverage: Martin's twin DBs Eric and Stephen make it twice as hard for opposing offenses
ARLINGTON — Eric and Stephen Amoako were born one minute apart, setting off a competitive chain reaction.
The twins were dual threats as sixth-grade violinists, middle school tennis players, and as high school basketball players, sprinters and high jumpers.
But the 5-11, 195-pound mirror images have shined brightest in Arlington Martin’s secondary. They are two big reasons Martin will take a 3-0 record into Saturday’s contest against rival Bowie (2-1).
In the Warriors’ last game, a 56-41 victory over Flower Mound, cornerback Stephen produced the go-ahead score with a 20-yard interception return late in the third quarter.
Flower Mound coach Cody Vanderford said his team tried to throw away from Stephen as much as possible. Eric spends most of his time at safety, although he is occasionally inserted at corner.
“The one at cornerback is one of the best corners I’ve seen in high school,” Vanderford said. “He’s terrific in man coverage. He stood out more than his brother, but maybe that’s just because he made so many big plays. They’re both tremendous athletes.”
Because of their speed, strength and smarts, the twins attracted a flurry of attention from college scouts until they gave oral commitments to Oregon in May. Although the Amoakos never said they were a package deal, recruiters saw the value in keeping them together. Twelve colleges offered both of them scholarships.
“They have such a strong bond they almost at times share the same thought process,” Martin coach Bob Wager said last week, waiting for the twins to arrive at his office.
“I bet you a steak dinner that when they come in here, one of them will finish the other one’s sentence. Promise it will happen.”
Sure enough, about five minutes later, the twins were asked if they have a favorite TV show.
“Probably Lost,” they said in unison.
The Amoakos aren’t the only twin teammates. North Mesquite senior linebackers Justin and Joey Owens have started the last two seasons.
For the Amoakos, playing side-by-side is the status quo.
They started off in youth league at tailback and fullback. They also lined up beside each other on the defensive line before moving to cornerback and receiver in seventh grade.
“We didn’t care what position we played as long as we played,” Chris said. “It just worked out that way.”
The Amoakos’ parents divorced when the twins were young. They spend most of the school year with their mother, Donna Birchette. She has worked 15 years as a manager for Xcenda, consulting on healthcare issues with pharmaceutical and medical device companies. They spend summers with their father, Houston attorney Eric Amoako.
“I told them playing football is a privilege, not a right,” Birchette said. “There’s nothing guaranteed in sports, but you can always fall back on your degree. One day I walked into Coach Wager’s office and said, ‘If they don’t get this grade up, bench them.’ He thought I was crazy.”
It has taken discipline for the twins to juggle school and athletics. Last year, they ran on the 4x100-meter relay team and high jumped.
Playing exclusively at safety, Eric contributed 59 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions, three deflections and two fumble recoveries, including one returned for a 61-yard touchdown.
At corner, Stephen posted 26 tackles, an 81-yard interception return for a touchdown, six deflections and a fumble recovery.
Stephen’s best 40 time is 4.5 seconds; Eric’s is 4.7. They both can bench press 330 pounds.
“If Eric was to outdo me, I think the drive to get there would probably push me over,” Stephen said. “But in the end, we still root for each other. We’d rather see both of us do well instead of one of us dominate here or there.”